Wisdom Day Celebration, September 11, 2015

We have a special tradition at LCMCS. In the beginning of the year, the whole school, including parents, gathers outside in a circle to celebrate Wisdom Day. Stemming from a Russian tradition, the intent of Wisdom Day is to honor learning, and to celebrate the community of learners. We say a few words, sing songs  (Dona Nobis Pacem sounds beautiful when 325+ voices sing the parts together, with our backdrop of Mt Hood silently bearing witness!), and make a processional into the school. The students, ages 2 1/2 through 15 years, all bring a small bunch of flowers to make a bouquet in their classroom once inside again. It’s a lovely, short and sweet ceremony.

This year’s celebration had a special poignancy, falling as it did on September 11. In 2015, the hope for humanity is that lessons learned from tragedies can help us create more harmony in our communities. Under the glorious sunny weather, with all of our community together for the start of the day,  there was a sense of peace.

For those who couldn’t be there, we’ll have photos posted soon. And here’s the text of the comments I made for Wisdom Day 2015:

Welcome to the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. We have a very special community at Lewis and Clark, and a special tradition in our annual Wisdom Day celebration.

One of the things that makes our school special is that we learn about and practice ways to achieve peace. We learn about how to listen to others, how to express ourselves so that others might hear, and how to tolerate other people’s opinions. We learn about finding peaceful solutions when there are differences of opinion. And it takes a lot of wisdom to know what to do. This is big work, and life long practice. 

Several years ago on this day, some people from another country were angry, and thought that our country was a cause of some problems they were angry about.

It seemed that they were convinced that what they thought and believed and how they lived was right, and that how people in our country thought and believed and lived was wrong. It seemed that the very thought that others were not the same or didn’t think the same made them afraid, and it made them angry.

With that anger, they chose to make an attack on some very tall buildings in a city, where thousands of people had just arrived to start their work day.

Many people died. We can honor them with some moments of silence now.

Maybe the people who made the attack thought that their anger would change people’s minds. Maybe they thought that their fear would make people in our country so afraid that we would do what they wanted us to do.

People in our country did feel afraid and they were angry. And they wanted to do something. But many people here also knew that violence was not the way to make this situation better.

Many leaders tried to help people stay strong, and instead of pulling apart and making sides, they encouraged people to draw together. Knowing that you are a part of a community can really help when we feel afraid or don’t know what to do. Communities can work on solutions, just like individuals can. 

It can be hard to know what to do when we’re angry or afraid. We might want to strike out at others, make them angry and afraid, too. But there is another way, and that is using our wise minds for a better solution.

When we stop and think, our wisdom can show us that there are other ways to get what we need. Wisdom shows us that there are other ways to solve problems, or to change hearts and minds.

We can let our wisdom show in our words, and as caring that others might have a different opinion. And that there might be a way to find a solution or make an agreement that works for us and for others, too. Developing our wise mind means we are going to make mistakes, or will sometimes be wrong, or need to take guidance from others. It can be hard to know when to stand for something that’s important, and when to let go of “being right”. That takes courage, and it challenges our integrity to grow.

Using our wisdom makes a community strong. Using our wisdom helps us grow. Using our wisdom helps to lessen our anger, our fear. It creates more harmony with others, and increases feelings of contentment, peace and happiness. With our wisdom, we are building a harmonious LCMCS community where everyone can feel safe. We are a special place, and we welcome you to our community.